Gift a rakhi, plant a tree: this Jaipur startup is urging people to go green this Raksha Bandhan
Raksha Bandhan is that time of the year when the eternal bond between a brother and sister is cherished and celebrated. From tying colourful rakhi to buying exquisite gifts and planning surprises, it’s a much looked-forward-to Indian festival.
While gifts are generally used or treasured, and chocolates eaten almost instantly, rakhis mostly end up in landfills. And, since most of the threads sold in the market today are made of plastic, it produces a negative effect on the environment as well as the food chain.
According to a report published by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in 2017, an estimated 25,940 tonnes of plastic waste is generated in India every day This translates to a per capita consumption of 11 kilogrammes of plastic on an average. And rakhis definitely contribute to this mess, considering that crores of Indians celebrate Raksha Bandhan every year.
But, Indibni, a Jaipur-based gifting startup, is attempting to bring a green change by producing plastic-free plantable ‘Seed Rakhi’ this Raksha Bandhan. Made of indigenous and organic cotton thread, the rakhis are embedded with amaltas, sunflower, papaya, rice or basil seeds that can be grown into trees.
Nitin Jain, Co-founder, Indibni tells YourStory:
“Every year, 620 million rakhis are dumped as waste that never decomposes. A whopping 1.18 billion tonnes of carbon footprints is generated as a result. We really wanted to do something about it. After two years of intensive research, the idea of ‘SeedRakhi’ emerged in 2016 and things started moving in the right direction.”
The founding story
Indibni is an interesting word with a deep meaning. It is an ambigram (mirror image) of the word ‘indi’ and the co-founders of the startup have attached a lot of Indianness to it. The three ‘i’s in the name stand for India, innovation, and individuality.
Nitin Jain and Ankit Jain were studying for their degree in design at Birla Institute of Technology when they came up with the idea of establishing a gifting space on a digital platform. The duo began on-ground operations right after college in 2012. The essence of Indibni was to sell indigenous and original gifting items to people. The team simply kept building on this in the last few years and seed rakhis turned out to be one of their most special creations.
Nitin conceptualised the idea of seed rakhis when, two years ago, during Raksha Bandhan, he had 16 rakhis tied on his hand.
“All the rakhis that my sisters gave me were studded with beads and glitter. After the festival was over, I did not know what to do with all the threads. I began wondering how wonderful it would have been if the rakhis had more utility. That gave birth to seed rakhis,” recollects Nitin.
A green Raksha Bandhan
Indibni’s seed rakhis are being sold as part of a do-it-yourself (DIY) kit consisting of all the essentials required to plant a tree. While the seed is either embedded within the rakhi or pasted along with the thread, the coir and manure is simply packed and placed in the kit. The package also includes a handmade diary, an eco-friendly pen made using bamboo as well as an instruction manual.
The kit is priced at Rs 500 and is available on ecommerce sites like Amazon and Flipkart, in addition to the startup’s official website.
“The idea behind creating these plastic-free seed rakhis is to promote a green Raksha Bandhan among people. During festivals like Diwali and Holi, there is a lot of talk about saying no to crackers, using clay diyas, natural colours and so on. So, why not apply the same thought process during Raksha Bandhan? Besides, planting a seed in the soil and watching it mushroom into a sapling, then mature into a tree is symbolic of the ever-growing relationship between a brother and a sister,” explains Nitin.
Pradeep Tripathi, a staunch environmentalist and Founder of the NGO Green Yatra, echoes this.
“Products like seed rakhis have a dual purpose. Not only do they symbolise the bond between siblings, but also bring about an awareness in the community with regard to good environmental practices,” he says.
In order to spread the word, the startup is also conducting workshops and camps across several schools and colleges in Jaipur including St. Angela Sophia Senior Secondary School, Maharaja Sawai Mansingh Vidyalaya, Jayshree Periwal High School, Uday Waldorf Inspired School of Jaipur, IIIM College and Subodh Girls College.
“Since Raksha Bandhan and Independence day fall on the same day this year, we have launched a campaign to salute the real heroes and rakshaks (protectors) of India by producing and distributing tricolour rakhis to the country’s armed forces. The team of Indibni has already sent the rakhis to the Attari border from Jaipur via post in order to realise this,” says Nitin.
The financial resources for both these awareness efforts was raised through the crowdfunding platform Ketto via Amazon Wings.
The making of seed rakhis
Indibni has produced over 50,000 handmade seed rakhis for Raksha Bandhan this year with the help of women’s self-help-groups like FICCI Ladies’ Organisation (FLO) in Rajasthan, Pins and Needles in Delhi, Madona Group in Kerala, Gramothaan Project in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, AL Crafts in Jaipur.
“The team procured and distributed the material required to make the rakhis and then trained the women to handcraft them. This initiative was aimed at providing rural women with opportunities and financially empower them,” quips Nitin.
Since Indibni was the first to come up with the idea of selling seed rakhis, the startup has a registered trademark for the product. Out of the 50,000 pieces produced this year, 20,000 have already been sold and 25,000 distributed to children and armed personnel.
(Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan)